KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Winter Black-capped Chickadee

winter chickadee

Photo by Robin Song

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


Updates and Clarification on the New Sunshine Clinic Medical Director

by Phillip Manning ~ August 7th, 2013

On August 6th, KTNA reported that the Sunshine Community Health Center hired Shelis Jorgensen to fill the post of Medical Director.  Jorgensen contacted the station on August 7th to provide additional details and clarification.

Jorgensen says that she looks forward to easing upheaval and staff anxiety that arose after the contract of the previous Medical Director, Dr. Mary Loeb, was not renewed.  It is not an absolute certainty that Jorgensen will be the permanent Medical Director, however.  She says that her plan is to bring as much stability as possible early on while she evaluates the Clinic’s current situation and her continuing role.  She says it is her hope that she can provide stability in the long-term, but that the final decision will be made after an assessment period.

Jorgensen says that she will begin working at the Sunshine Community Health Center part-time to fulfill the Medical Director role, but will not initially be a healthcare provider at SCHC.  She plans to continue seeing patients at Mat-Su Community Pediatrics in Wasilla for the immediate future.  Additionally, the Talkeetna Women and Children’s Clinic at Northern Susitna Institute will be closed for the next few months, and patients of that clinic can be seen at the Wasilla office.   Patients who were already scheduled for August 27th for immunizations at Talkeetna Women and Children’s will be seen, and the public health nurse will continue seeing patients on the last Tuesday of each month.

Jorgensen says she anticipates receiving a contract, soon.  In a previous interview, SCHC Executive Director David Bryant said that Jorgensen’s start date was dependent on pre-employment procedures, but he anticipates her being able to start next week.

12 Responses to Updates and Clarification on the New Sunshine Clinic Medical Director

  1. Shelis Jorgensen

    Thank you Mr Manning for the clarification. It is my sincere hope that I am able to work collaboratively with the staff, leadership and board to continue Sunshine Clinic on a path of rebuilding and positive forward momentum while helping to meet some immediate critical needs. I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity to help and am thankful for all the support I have received from community members and staff already.

  2. The Irishman

    What an arrogant and egotistical letter this is, did Mr Bryant help you write it? Perhaps you need to conduct a survey of community residents to see what sort of support you really have. While you’re at it, you might also poll the Clinic staff, I understand they’re not real happy at the prospect of your return either.

    So you’re looking forward to easing the upheaval and anxiety brought on by the departure of Dr Mary? Surely you jest, the upheaval and anxiety we now experience was brought on by the arrival of that other superhero, the now infamous Mr Bryant, as the Clinic was running quite well before his appearance.

    One can only hope that the Bryant/Jorgensen dog and pony show will soon be brought to an end before it can do further harm to the Clinic.

  3. Karen Holt

    Arrogant and egotistical … better than a COWARD who posts under a pseudonym who must be ashamed to personally stand behind their opinion.

  4. The Irishman

    I think I’m going to puke.

  5. Debbie Whitecar

    Shelis will be superb as a Medical Director. She also is a practitioner who truly cares about her patients and goes the extra mile to help and inform. I agree with Karen Holt’s comment above: The Irishman should not name Shelis of all people arrogant and egotistical. He obviously has never met Shelis and does not know her motivations as a person and as a professional. I urge people to (re-)read the comment/open letter to the community and Clinic made by Robert Ambrose to the KTNA post “Clinic to Add New Provider”. Here the link to it: http://ktna.org/2013/07/12/clinic-to-add-new-provider/#comments

    That said, from what an outsider like me and the majority of others in this community can gather from the latest developments at the clinic, it ‘appears’ that Mr. Bryant may not be perfect and the Board members may not have done their best either. Hard to judge when one is not directly involved, so maybe I shouldn’t. Letting someone go (Mary Loeb) on such short notice after working at the Clinic for over a decade is just not the right way to handle a firing; and adding a no-rehire clause, also an awful thing to do. Especially when one considers that Mr Bryant is still a newbie to the Clinic. Can the board just let him run with a major decision like that? But maybe some bad words were spoken between Mary Loeb and Mr Bryant? Maybe Mr Bryant had no option but to fire Mary Loeb? Maybe the chemistry between Mary Loeb and Mr Bryant was simply “off”? Maybe there’s some truth to Robert Ambrose’s letter? I agree that the Clinic hasn’t been the same since Shelis and several others left—at least not for me.

    I am hopeful that with Shelis stepping in and helping out (short term or maybe even long term), it will help the Clinic find its “old ways” again. It might be the “new way” to go. Just don’t boycott Shelis. She does not deserve that. I believe she’s stepping in with only best intentions.

  6. Amanda Simpson

    I am so excited that you will joining the clinic again, and helping in this time of need!! I am a community member and a client at the clinic and you have my families support.

  7. Grete Perkins

    David Bryant did not act in the best interests of the community and the clinic once again. I like Shelis, but making her the Medical Director will be awkwad at the least. Shelis is an ANP, and has a Doctorate degree in Nursing. To have a Medical Director with her credentials is not forward thinking. It is against protocol in the medical profession to have a non-doctor directing a doctor, Dr. Joan, at this moment, and the locum (temporary) Dr.. Is Mr. Bryant, yet again, not thought this through to the next step? Or maybe he plans to “let Dr. Joan go” and hire only mid-level practitioners? Yet again, Mr. Bryant has shown only shortsidedness.

  8. Karen Holt

    Grete – It may be against protocol in private practice but having a mid-level provider as a Medical Director is customary in a Community Health Center environment. Jessica Stevens PA-C was the Medical Director at Sunshine Community Health Center while both she and Dr. Mary Loeb were employed there. As well, John Riley PA-C was the Medical Director over the biggest Community Health Center in the State (Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center) for many years. There are Federal Expectations that come with the funding of a Community Health Center and sometimes that dictates (as well as reimbursement dictates) the credentials of a provider that a facility is able to hire. I can say this from over 13 years of working at the Clinic that the accountability to the federal funding the Clinic receives is enormous. The board and leadership know this, and know it well. I have to say there is so much non-factual information being tossed around on our social public forums (and I guess that is to be expected) as a friend I would offer that if you have any questions about the Community Health Center structure and such please call me, you have my number. This upheaval at the clinic is déjà vu and incredibly painful for me – so I have chosen to stay out of the fray. I grieve for my friend and mentor Jessica Stevens every day. Because Shelis and I were together (along with others) by Jess’ side for so many years while she (Jess) tirelessly gave herself to the community building the clinic, I so understand why Shelis is willing to go back. To me the clinic is Jessica and it will never leave my heart. Finally my suggestion to you and those that are unhappy with what is happening at the clinic, is to make application to the Board of Directors, get involved and go to the meetings, that is the best way to be heard. Forget about being unhappy with David Bryant, he answers only to the Board. I truly know your heart is in the right place … because my friend you have such a big one.

  9. Mike and Paula SCHC emolyees

    It’s a shame that the Upper Valley has so many mean spirited people.
    The loss of Dr. Mary to SCHC, as tragic as it might be, is no excuse to attack Shelis Jorgenson. Have any of the people, who have written negative comments, worked with her? We have.
    She’s a highly intelligent, dedicated woman who has stepped into a horrible situation. Her devotion to the Upper Valley and to our communties physical and mental health issues is evident by the mere action of taking on this post.
    The leadership provided by a Medical Directors position is needed and the vacancy would have been filled.
    We pose that the communties should welcome a provider and Medical Director with ties and core values that reflect the beliefs of the Talkeena, Willow and Trapper Creek residents.
    We will not forget the reason why SCHC needs a new Medical Director, however a new Director is needed. Supporting Shelis does not condone the dismissal,,, no,,, the abrupt removal of Dr. Mary. Dr Mary is a remarkable, dedicated, persistant, compassionate person who we feel is a part of the clinics foundation. She is very much missed.
    So get a LIFE, stop complaining and help someone TODAY

  10. Linda Jansen

    As an employee for 14 years at SCHC, I’d like to express that things are not as they appear from the outside, nor how they are portrayed by some on this web site. It is painful to see the destruction done to the clinic’s reputation by the assumptions and speculation of a few community members who are calling themselves the “voice of the community”.

    The very simple truth of Shelis’s motive in returning to the clinic which she holds dear to her heart are love of this community and true care for her patients. For years Shelis was my coworker as well as medical provider for me and my daughters and she always went above and beyond her call of duty in per professional work and provider care. Shelis leanred well and formed a close bond with her mentor, Jessica Stevens. Like Jess, she is humble, selfless, unpretentious and is a healer. I am confident that Shelis is capable of reconnecting us to the purpose and the roots of the clinic that Jess shaped. There are many employees at the clinic that are thrilled to have Shelis return and look forward to a positive future at SCHC.

    I feel no need to respond to the ignorance of a few individuals who are posting to damage the clinic and hurt Shelis, while hiding behind their pseudonym curtain, just like the pathetic Wizard of Oz.

  11. Kim Clark

    The pseudonym concept has been great up to this point. How were staff supposed to let the community know how they feel without fear of retribution? KTNA was about the only place they had freedom to vent. Spare a thought to those that oppose the executive director and how helpless they must feel.

  12. Duronda Twigg

    I believe we have all been guilty of hurtful comments either in the passion of our beliefs or to vindicate our own scars. Either way, it is wrong.
    I have worked with most of these wonderful people and it has been an honor to do so.
    We may not always agree on how things should look but we respect one another to allow those differences. I believe we all feel passionate about our communities and the healthcare clinics that were birthed and nurtured by members we call neighbors and friends. It’s easy to lose focus in situations like these.
    Please keep in mind that respect should always come first even in disagreement. I will be the first to admit that I have not always followed that line. Reminding ourselves what is really important will help us see each other in a different light. Then we are open to learn what the experience has to teach us. Unfortunately and fortunately adversity is our teacher.